A Modern Guide to Knifemaking: Step-by-step instruction for forging your own knife from expert bladesmiths, including making your own handle, sheath and sharpening

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In A Modern Guide to Knifemaking, survivalist Laura Zerra, one of the stars of Naked and Afraid on the Discovery Channel, shares her essential knifemaking tips and tricks, including step-by-step instructions for both forging and stock removal.

We all use a knife pretty much every day, but for Zerra, her daily life often depends on the blade she takes with her into the wild. She's learned about what works and what doesn't, what steel will hold an edge, and what nuances in blade design will make or break a knife.

From design to sharpening, A Modern Guide to Knifemaking covers every step in the knifemaking process. To begin, you will consider what you want your knife to accomplish, develop a design, and make a prototype. Zerra takes you through choosing and buying steel for your knife and then teaches you to build your own forge. You will learn forging basics and then move on to forge the shape of your knife and make the blade tip. From there, you will cut the blade profile, grind in bevels to make the edge of the knife, heat treat and temper your blade, grind and polish it, and make a handle and sheath for it. You will also learn sharpening techniques to maintain the edge of your new knife.

Throughout, Zerra has included Pro-Tips from some of the leading knifemakers working today including Ken Onion, Kaila Cumings, and Mike Jones.

A Modern Guide to Knifemaking covers every detail of knifemaking so you can make yourself the perfect knife.

From the Publisher

Chapter 1 . Tools of the Trade

Now that you’ve decided you want to be a knifemaker, it’s time to set up a work space and make sure you have the right tools. As you first start out, don’t be limited by the thought that you need to invest a ton of money to have the tools and a huge work space.

Chapter 2 . Designing a Knife

At its most basic definition, a knife is simply a cutting tool attached to a handle. And yet, there are thousands of different knives available on the market. How do you ever decide what the best kind of knife is? Knives are a very personal thing. We all have different tasks we need our blade to accomplish.

Chapter 3 . Understanding Steel

Steelmaking is one of the largest industries in the world today. Steel has countless uses in our daily lives, and there are many different kinds produced to meet these various needs. For the bladesmith, choosing an appropriate steel for a blade is just the first step.

Chapter 4 . Blacksmithing

Before modern-day grinders and power cutting tools, all metal knives were made through the art of blacksmithing. The local ‘smithy’. as blacksmith shops are known, was at one point an integral part of every town. Today, most people have never set foot inside a blacksmith shop, but the prevalence of the surname Smith is a relic of how common this trade used to be.

Chapter 5 . Grinding

Now that your blacksmithing is done, it’s time to start grinding. After the profile of your knife is refined, you’ll be systematically removing material to create bevels. These bevels will form an angle that makes the cutting edge of your blade. This is the defining moment in which you really turn your piece of steel into a knife.

Chapter 6 . Heat Treating and Finishing

It’s impossible to simply look at a blade and determine if it’s been heat-treated properly. Through use, however, the contrast of a blade that has undergone the process and one that hasn’t becomes obvious.

Chapter 7 . Making a Handle

Now that the majority of the metalwork is done, it’s time to switch mediums. There are countless options for the combination of materials that can be used to build a knife’s handle, and each will create a different look. The handle aesthetic is a defining part of any knife. The materials you choose will help to create the unique character of your knife.

Chapter 8 . Making a Sheath

No fixed blade is complete without a proper sheath. A sheath will prevent your knife from accidentally cutting or stabbing you or another object when it’s not in use. It will also protect the edge from damage, and cushion the knife from any impact that could occur from a fall.

Chapter 9 . Sharpening and Knife Care

Sharpening the edge of your blade is the last step in making your knife. Like most things in knife making, every maker has their preferred method for sharpening. In my opinion, one of the best method for sharpening is one that leaves you with a useful knife. A knife is only as good as how well it performs its function, and there are very few knives that were designed to be dull.

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